And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 13, Cubs 2: It’s almost as if Josh Hamilton hadn’t totally forgotten how to play baseball or something. Go figure. Two homers and five RBI in this romp. One of his homers was back-to-back with a Pujols home run. First time that’s happened this year.

Nationals 5, Phillies 1: The Nats hit four homers off Cliff Lee: back-to-back in the fifth, back-to-back in the sixth. Otherwise Lee was fine and Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the play.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 5: The sweep, as A.J. Ellis ties it up in the ninth and then homers in the fourteenth. The Dodgers were 12 games under .500 and nine and a half games out of first on June 22. Now they are back to .500 and one and a half back of the Diamondbacks after winning 15 of 18. I do a lot of radio spots around the country each week. A lot of the same stations over and over. It’s cute how the hosts and I talk about the surging Dodgers without acknowledging that we both talked about Don Mattingly’s imminent firing just a few weeks ago. We totally pretend we never said that stuff.

Blue Jays 5, Indians 4: They Jays rallied for three in the ninth and then held the Tribe’s own ninth inning rally to two runs. Terry Francona explains the ninth inning:

“Smitty had faced Arencibia four times and struck him out four times,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “That’s the matchup we wanted. With Kawasaki, he just left the ball over the plate and Bourny mishandled it for the unearned run.”

It takes a real pro to be obviously angry and disappointed but STILL use silly, childish nicknames for your players. That’s why Tito is Tito. Or maybe he should be Titoy or something.

Mets 7, Giants 2: Zack Wheeler was in the Giants organization once. They decided that a rental of Carlos Beltran was more valuable to them than keeping Wheeler. Probably not feeling that way this morning. Wheeler gave up one run in seven innings and had an RBI. Matt Cain lasted only two-thirds. The Mets sweep. The Giants are a disaster.

Marlins 6, Braves 2: A four-run first inning included a Giancarlo Stanton RBI double, which helped break his slump and the Marlins five-game losing streak.

Orioles 6, Rangers 1: Wei-Yin Chen finally returns from the DL and gives the O’s exactly what they needed: Seven innings, three hits and one run.

Reds 6, Brewers 2: Mike Leake helped stop the Reds bleeding — they’ve dropped five games behind the Cardinals — by pitching into the ninth inning, allowing only two runs.

Yankees 8, Royals 1: Ivan Nova allowed one run in eight innings while Robinson Cano and Lyle Overbay homered. Overbay’s was a slam. Both Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner left the game with contusions of one kind or another.

Pirates 5, Athletics 0: A’s beat writers were tweeting pics of ominous skies before this game started, remarking how strange it looked to them and how in California you simply don’t see that sort of thing. Maybe it threw the A’s off too. Maybe a three hour rain delay did. Either way, Francisco Liriano stymied Oakland batters.

Tigers 8, White Sox 5: Three hits a piece for Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, who added a home run. Joaquin Benoit walked two in the ninth but he did manage to convert his eighth save opportunity of the year so perhaps there is finally some stability at the end of the Tigers bullpen.

Rays 4, Twins 3: Thirteen innings played, 35 strikeouts between the teams. Bet this one was riveting to watch. Ben Zobrist with the game winning single. The Twins have dropped 10 of 11. The Rays are on fire.

Red Sox 11, Mariners 4: David Ortiz doubled, homered and drove in three. Felix Doubront allowed one run in seven. Ortiz’s double put him past Harold Baines for the most hits from a DH all-time.

Cardinals 5, Astros 4: Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer in the seventh — off a lefty — to put the Cards past Houston. Take that, platoon splits.

Rockies 5, Padres 4: Jorge De La Rosa took a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning. It was his sixth straight win against the Padres.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉